The Supreme Court has declared the Ahmed Markafi faction as the authentic leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there putting to an end nearly fourteen months of legal battle over the soul of the party.
The Court in declaring the Makarfi group as the authentic leadership of the party upturned the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt that declared Senator Alli Modu Sheriff as the authentic leadership of the party.
Delivering judgment in Abuja, Justice Bode Rhodes Vivour who read the judgment of the seven-man panel held that the appeal filed by Makaufi faction has merit and was subsequently allowed.
The panel also awarded a cost of N250, 000 against Sherif.
The court in the judgment held that the National Convention of the party held on May 21, 2016 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State was validly convened and in line with the PDP constitution.
The court agreed with the appellant that the National Convention is the Supreme organ which controls every other organs of the party, adding that the national convention was in order to have set up a caretaker committee having dissolved the national executive committee.
The court further held that the dissolution of the National Executive Committee by the convention was in order since the national deputy chairman presided, adding that the convention acted within the constitution of the party.
The unanimous judgment expressed worry that Sheriff submitted himself to the National convention by seeking election to the office of the national chairman with half filled nomination form but was screened out.
The court further held that going by the report of the electoral screening committee, sheriff was disqualified on the grounds that he has no PDP membership card, he failed to produce three years tax clearance and voter card as required by law.
The lead judgment noted that immediately Sheriff was screened out by the electoral committee, sought to cancel the national convention and when the attempt failed he resorted to court actions as part of desperate attempt to perpetuate himself in office.
The apex court noted that in the process, sheriff filed ten different suits in different courts within one year but, stated that the suits would end up gathering dust in the judicial archives of the court.
He admonished politicians to stop engaging in forum shopping as done by Sheriff and that heads of courts should always assigned cases of the same nature and contents to a single judge so as to avoid getting conflicting judgments.
Meanwhile there was wild jubilation at the court by PDP faithfuls of the Makarfi faction who were present in court.
Among the PDP faithfuls in court include governors Nyesome Wike of Rivers and Ayo Fayose of Ekiti as well as former governors of Kano State Ibrahim Shekarau and that of Jigawa Alhaji Sule Lamido.
Other PDP bigwigs include Ahmed Markafi, Senator Ben Obi, Chief Bode George, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Professor Jerry Gana, former deputy speaker House of Rep. Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, Professor Tunde Adeniran, Prince Alex Obaje, Chief Tom ikimi, Professor Ibrahim Alkali among others.
However sheriff was absent during the judgment.
Assets Declaration: Isale Eko Youths Movement, Lawyer petitioned EX Comptroller of Customs.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Abuja has been told that a body Isale Eko Youhs Movement and a Lawyer Mr. Amobi Nzelu Petitioned a retired Deputy Comptroller of the Customs Mr. Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over his alleged failure to declare his assets as required by law.
At the commencement of trial of the defendant, the Prosecution Witness 1 Mrs Kahinde Balogun, a staff of the Intelligence Investigative and Monitoring unit of the Code of Conduct Bureau said her office received two petition against Mr Taiwo for not declaring his assets.
Mrs Balogun in her evidence in chief stated, before the two man panel, chaired by Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar, that her office in Abuja, received two petitions from Isale Eko Youth Movement and Amobi Nzelu & Co.
‘‘I am here to tell the court what I know about the defendant in this case. In March 2010, two petitions were received by Code of Conduct Bureau, against the Dependant, the first petition was written by Isale Eko Youth Movement, alleging amongst other things that the defendant owns some properties in various places, including Government Reservation Area in Ikeja, Lagos state’’ she said.
Mrs Balogun, said that ‘‘the second petition was written by a Law Firm Amobi Nzelu & Co, alleging non-declaration of asset’’.
Upon the receipt of the petitions, she said that her Department in the headquarters, wrote its office in Lagos, instructing it to carryout preliminary investigation of the alleged properties in Lagos.
She however, maintained that her department in the headquarters sought for the confirmation from Bureau Asset Department, the status of the defendant’s assets declaration, and that the Lagos office investigation reports revealed that the ownership of the those properties could not be ascertained.
The witness further said that assets department in the headquarters responded that the defendant has not declared his assets with Code of Conduct Bureau as required.
The PW I tendered the first petition by Isale Eko Youths Movement, and other documents, which the defense counsel Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi (SAN) objected its admissibility.
The defense counsel submitted that the documents sought to be tendered were photocopies and that they cannot be admitted as evidence claiming that the provision about certification is very clear in the Evidence Act, because the documents in question are not certified copies.
He maintained that the prosecution has not laid the foundation for his documents to be admitted as legal document to be relied upon.
He said: ‘‘if my learned friend can produce the original copies of the documents, I would not have any problem with him’’.
After a prolonged argument both sides, agreed on the admissibility of the documents as exhibit for the trial to go without delay, but with condition that the prosecution would in the later date make a proper submission.
The Tribunal Chairman adjourned the matter for continuation of trial to November 13, 2017.